Journos not happy with Mahoso

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Journalists in Harare mounted strong criticism against Tafataona Mahoso’s involvement in the registration of newspapers and journalists in Zimbabwe.

Referred to as Zimbabwe’s most notorious media hangman, Mahoso has been temporarily confirmed as chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) secretariat.

Participants of a discussion held at the Quill Club this week openly expressed anger and frustration at this development.

ZMC Commissioner Chris Mhike tried to downplay the matter saying that it had no impact explaining that Mahoso was a “mere personality” without powers to make crucial decisions.

“He (Mahoso) is a mere personality with no powers to make his own decisions pertaining to the registration process,” said Mhike.

Journalists insisted however that his personality brought discomfort and even uncertainty to the ongoing efforts to reform the media and argued it was not necessary to have had him involved in the first place.

But Mhike defended the commission’s position and said: “ZMC has no secretariat of its own and we are making use of the one led by Mahoso to go forward.
“Mahoso is not a commissioner though he is part of the secretariat where he is referred to as CEO.”

Mahoso’s inclusion in the secretariat has sparked fury, especially among independent journalist most of whom he rendered jobless after his unpopular onslaught on media houses and journalists.

Publisher and veteran journalist Kindness Paradza was one of those that questioned the wisdom of allowing Mahoso’s face to appear in the new media reforms.

“I hear Mahoso is with you (Mhike) at the ZMC. What is he doing there because apparently, the new thrust to restore media freedom does not tally with what he is known for?” asked Paradza, himself a victim of the country’s outgoing draconian media laws.

William Bango former Daily News staffer and a veteran journalist, said that Mahoso had to be stopped from writing columns in The Sunday Mail.

Mahoso is a columnist with the local weekly where he is known for attacking other political parties and openly defending Zanu PF.

“There is growing consensus among media practitioners that Mahoso has no place in the ongoing reform process and he must not be part of the ZMC secretariat,” said Bango.

One freelance journalist argued the legality of using a secretariat that was rendered defunct last year through a High Court ruling by Justice Patel.

“It is not legal to involve people rendered illegal to run the media reforms in Zimbabwe and Mahoso and his team were rendered defunct and I don’t understand the legal logic of this action,” he said.

Mhike tried to assure grumbling journalists that Mahoso would do nothing to derail the mandate of the ZMC but he could not stop the tirade against the confessed Zanu PF loyalist.

“Mahoso will not make decisions. His job will be to implement decisions of the commission,” Mhike argued.

Dumisani Muleya, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights said his organisation did not take comfort in Mahoso taking part in the media reform process given his “repressive” media record.

“Obviously we can’t be happy with a notorious media hangman taking charge of the process,” said Muleya.

“We know what he is capable of doing and he has proved it to everyone.”

ZMC started processing licences to new players in the media on Tuesday.